Factors contributing to the increase in hit and run deaths

Pedestrians and bicyclists in New Mexico who follow the rules of the road should feel safe on or near the roadways, whether traveling urban streets or rural areas. However, hit and run fatalities are on the rise, making them an increasing safety challenge.

The Truth About Cars reports that identifying the correlation between the increase and root cause is difficult as there are many factors involved, from distracted driving and poor road conditions to individuals failing to obey traffic laws. Statistics from 2016 indicate that the 2,046 pedestrian deaths reported throughout the country were a 60 percent increase from 2009.

It is realistic to expect higher fatality rates to come from states with higher populations, such as California, Texas and Florida. However, some alarming numbers are coming out of New Mexico. While the state has a lower population base, even when taking tourism into account, there were 2.4 hit-and-run fatalities per 100,000 people in 2016. This is higher than the rates in most other states. Incidents increase during the milder months when foot and bicycle traffic is high.

The recorded reasons for some hit-and-runs are unclear as they are categorized as non-traffic violations such as homicide or manslaughter. Assault committed without malice is another vague cause, giving little specific information on the root cause of the accident.

There are more drivers on the road today than ever before, possibly due to increased growth in urban centers as well as higher air travel costs. Collisions as a result of reckless driving can cause severe bodily harm from traumatic brain injuries and paralysis to severed limbs and broken bones. Families of hit-and-run victims may want to discuss the accident with an attorney.  

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